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The Uninvited

May 1, 2009

I am, as my old Mum would no doubt say – were she not forever up to her elbows in Dreft flakes, blasting her silks and woollens – not quite the thing. It started at the movies, as such things often do. Shall I talk you through it? I think I will; I think it’ll help. Admittedly, I’m not quite the full Katie Boyle today, but the reason for that will become abundantly clear.

You see, I’ve started to get into what Mrs Simpkins next door calls a bit of a flap when it comes to remakes or re-imaginings of films.

Oh, you can have all the original pieces of art you wish, you can have a mise-en-scène cake stand with doilies and cream slices all the way down to the Arndale Centre and back again, that doesn’t bother me. My twinset remains distinctly unbridled by the idea of something all Stewart Granger at the Odeon; that sort of thing, if you’ll pardon the passion, is as tickety boo as it gets.

Well, I’ll start a new onion, but oh that did get her back up: “Mise-en-scène, Thora, love, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Ida,” I said, that’s Mrs Simpkins to you, and she would be grateful were you to do so kindly as to never forget it, “Ida, it may be film criticism’s grand undefined term, but I know what it means. I have Fritz Lang and Robert Wiene to thank for that. Harsh lighting and sharp angles may not go down very well with the Holmfirth WI Jam Committee, but give me a bit of German Expressionism and I’m as happy as a sand boy.”

But she wasn’t listening. They don’t when they get to that age. It’s all coconut slices and wondering why you can’t get Colman’s Mustard powder in tins anymore. Still, it’s a blessing. A bit of respect in your twilight years goes further than even the chiaroscuro in Barry Lyndon, modified Mitchell BNC camera and Zeiss lens or no modified Mitchell BNC camera and Zeiss lens. It’s a fact, unfortunately.

So, I find myself in the cinema on my own more and more these days. Well, what can you do? Ida’s a wash out, and even Connie’s stopped chuntering away about László Kovács and his contribution to cinematography. I see a lot of stuff that the other girls wouldn’t, which is nice, and sometimes it even unearths the odd gem. But not often.

I’m becoming more and more impressed with Asian films, of course. Well, who isn’t? They even show them at the fleapit in Barnoldswick now, you know, and you can get a cup of cranberry infused in the café beforehand.

Kim Ji-woon, him as did that A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life? Oh, he’s very good. Very entertaining, very intense. Films to make you clean behind the skirting afterwards, if you get my meaning.

But wipe me down with a copy of The People’s Friend, if they hadn’t decided they needed a remake of Sisters. I was in a tizzy, I don’t mind saying. It was like walking in on Gilbert Harding and Cyril Fletcher all over again. What’s the point, I asked? Well, what’s the point of salting aubergines, I thought, and so along I went. And, of course, it was dreadful. As inept and limp as my dear departed George, but not as polite, charming or indeed apologetic.

I should have known, of course. It was always going to be thus. As Mum would say, “you’ve brought it on yourself, love, now make that tin of peck last a bit longer. There’s thirty barm cakes need buttering and they won’t do themselves.”

Mothers. They always know best.

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